Western Caucus Members Applaud Today's Action by USDA

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Washington, June 12, 2020 | Doug Levine (202-225-2315) | comments

Today, Members of the Western Caucus released the following statements after USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue signed a memorandum to the Chief of the Forest Service regarding forest management activities, public access, and wildfire prevention:

"Today’s announcement is another important step is getting our nations forests and grasslands working again. For too long, the federal government has failed in its responsibility to actively management our nations forests and in return, they have become tinder boxes waiting to burn. This years fire season presents unique challenges given the favorable weather conditions and the COVID-19 pandemic. Bold action is necessary to mitigate this enhanced risk. I am pleased to see this announcement, as it shows the Trump Administration understands these problems and focused on fixing them," said Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04).

“Today’s action by the USDA is crucial to supporting ranchers who have legally grazed on federal lands for generations, and fulfills the intended mission of the multiple use doctrine by protecting the interests of stakeholders in Wyoming.  For too long, livestock producers have battled against the federal government’s attempts to reduce grazing on public lands. The constant risk of frivolous lawsuits against them have the potential to cause economic pain for this industry that creates jobs and economic growth for our state,” said House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (WY-At Large)

“Nearly two thirds of forest lands in Colorado are federally owned, and to ensure all Americans can continue to enjoy these treasured areas for years to come, we must protect them from devasting fires and other naturally occurring phenomenon. We can do this by having a comprehensive vision on proactive management which I have long called for. I applaud Secretary Perdue’s forward thinking approach to improve the forest management process, bringing broadband to rural areas, increasing access to forests and grasslands, and making this vision transparent to the public,” said Executive Vice-Chairman Scott Tipton (CO-03). 

"This memorandum is a major step towards the better management of our national forests and grasslands. Every American can appreciate the importance and the beauty of America’s forests and grasslands. However, what most do not realize is that these ecosystems are living, breathing organisms. The healthiest forests are ones that are actively managed, not left susceptible to diseases and wildfire. For the past several decades, the Forest Service has not had its priorities straight in terms of proper management. I applaud Secretary Perdue and Chief Christensen for taking another positive step in improving those priorities. I look forward to seeing these new strategies improve the health of our national forests and grasslands, so we can continue to enjoy these special places for generations to come," said Vice-Chairman for Infrastructure and Forestry Bruce Westerman (AR-04).

"For too long, our federally-owned forests have been poorly managed, resulting in increased fire risk that has devastated neighboring lands and even our towns here in Northern California. Reducing fire risk requires real action, and a pace and scale of work that makes a difference. We need forest productivity, as well as access, for Americans to enjoy our public lands. Today’s announcement from USDA Secretary Perdue makes important changes to current forest management practices that will inevitably improve overall forest health and safety in the West. While we enter this fire season during a drought, Northern Californians recognize that responsible forest management is more important than ever. I thank the Trump Administration for continuing to follow through on their promise to improve our public lands," said Vice-Chairman for Agriculture and Chief Business Officer Doug LaMalfa (CA-01).

"Our national forests and grasslands play a major role in supporting the local communities and economies of Central Washington. I look forward to working with Secretary Perdue and Chief Christiansen to continue improving our public lands, actively managing our forests to prevent wildfires, and ensuring access to grazing for farmers and ranchers across the West and beyond," said Vice-Chairman for Departments of Interior and Energy Dan Newhouse (WA-04).

“I applaud Secretary Perdue for implementing the Trump Administration’s regulatory reform agenda. Many of my constituents often deal with the Forest Service‘s onerous regulatory timelines and restrictions to access public lands. While there is more to be done to remove the heavy hand of the federal government from our lives, today’s announcement is a welcoming sign of relief that will benefit Arizona’s economy and western traditions,” said Vice-Chairman for Regulatory Reform Andy Biggs (AZ-05). 

"I have been a long-time advocate for effective land management, particularly following last year’s devastating fires in Alaska. Increasing access to our National Forests, preserving our country’s grazing heritage, and streamlining the environmental review process are just some of the ways we can better promote land management in our country. I want to thank Secretary Perdue and the Trump Administration for advocating on this important issue, and look forward to our continued work together on behalf of our public lands," said Vice-Chairman for Indian Affairs and Fisheries Don Young (AK-At Large).

“I have been pleased to see the outstanding work of the Department of Agriculture under Secretary Perdue’s leadership. This latest effort will foster land management, increase recreational access, and support grazing, which will ensure the United States Forest Service is utilizing every effort to promote access to our abundant resources while also protecting our nation’s natural beauty,” said Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06).

“I applaud the Administration taking action to enable stewardship of our resources.  Our farmers and ranchers need flexibility, and our government needs help from the private sector to manage our public lands,” said Congressman Rick Crawford (AR-01) 

 “After continued advocacy and multiple letters, I am encouraged to see the Forest Service move forward with increasing access to our National Forests. In our district, our communities are supported by the loggers, truckers, and mills that harvest timber on the Chippewa and Superior National Forests. Furthermore, fire season is already underway. It has been an especially dry season, and I am encouraged the federal government seeks to partner with our logging communities and local first responders to ensure we keep this season under control, ” said Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08) 

"For decades the National Forest System has been in dire need of active management and increased access. Encouraging sustainable timber harvesting will support vibrant rural communities, healthier forests and mitigate devastating wildfires. I applaud Secretary Perdue for this announcement and his continued support of rural America,"  said Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-15).

“In West Virginia, we are proud of our beautiful National Forests. I’m pleased the Trump Administration is focused on prioritizing National Forests through active land management and increased access and productivity,” said Congressman Alex X. Mooney (WV-02).

“Today’s announcement by Secretary Purdue is another important step towards improving the management of our national forests and reducing the risk of wildfire across Oregon. Thinning our forests and reducing fuels across our rangeland is vital to mitigating the risk of fires that choke our skies with smoke and put our communities and local economies at risk. I applaud the Trump Administration for building on the progress we made through legislation I helped champion that streamlined forest management projects and provided additional tools to our federal lands managements to get more work done in the woods. These new efforts by USDA will further improve the health of our forests and rangeland, and protect our communities,” said Congressman Greg Walden (OR-02).

“Secretary Perdue’s memorandum providing an updated vision to the United States Forest Service will be another valuable step in ultimately restoring the productivity and viability of our National Forests and Grasslands. For too long, state and local governments suffered due to overly restrictive regulations placed on federal lands by the Obama Administration, including their refusal to allow the use of land and renewable resources like pine trees. This move will have lasting effects on land management practices and will benefit local economies,” said Congressman Louie Gohmert (TX-01)

Background:

This announcement today follows on from an April decision by Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt to construct and maintain a system of up to 11,000 miles of strategically placed fuel breaks to control wildfires within a 223 million- acre area in portions of California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. A Western Caucus press release on that announcement can be seen HERE

Courtesy of the USDA:

An electronic copy of the memorandum, the Secretarial Memorandum to the Chief of the Forest Service and associated documents can be seen HERE.

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